Rabbit Holes 🕳️ #62
From central carbon banks to ending pet ownership, the solarpunk movement, software beating the world and the orientation matrix
THIS WEEK → 🏦 Central Carbon Banks 🐶 Should We End Pet Ownership? ☀️ The Solarpunk Movement ➕ Software Is Beating The World 🚿 The Orientation Matrix
Rabbit Holes 🕳️
As always, here are three perspective-shifting ideas to create a better world, plus some fun extras below. Enjoy!
#1 🏦 Central Carbon Banks
A clever idea that makes one rethink how we can better structure important decision-making that specifically requires long-term thinking, an international perspective, and a consideration of the interests of future generations.
“A better solution would perhaps be to transfer decisions on climate change measures from politicians to an independent central carbon bank. A conventional central bank is generally insulated from everyday politics. […] Likewise, an independent central carbon bank would shield climate change policy from the incentives of electoral politics, allowing its board of scientists to make decisions that would be beneficial in the long term, even if those decisions are unpopular with voters.
One of the main problems with this is that the board would lack democratic accountability. This could be partially addressed by incorporating mini publics into its structure: i.e., alongside appointed members, the board could include a random selection of members of the public, drawn from every segment of the population and part of the country.
The board would set carbon emission reduction goals and provide recommendations on how to achieve these goals—while leaving the specific details up to elected politicians. To avoid gridlock or obstructionism, we could institute a rule that if the elected politicians fail to act within a certain time, the board would have the power to implement the policy themselves, in the same way as central banks can implement interest rate policy.
If we are willing to delegate one of the most important economic decisions—setting interest rates—to technocrats in order to mitigate the effects of harmful short termism, it seems feasible to do this in the even more important arena of carbon emission reduction.”
#2 🐶 Should We End Pet Ownership?
An eye-opening article that I find super interesting because pets (especially dogs and cats) could, in an ideal world at least, actually be such a catalyst for creating further more symbiotic relationships with nature. It seems, however, that we’ve been moving in the exact opposite direction.
“Since humans domesticated dogs (over 20,000 years ago) and cats (over 10,000 years ago), who some say are merely “semi-domesticated,” their roles have evolved largely from one type of work — hunting and guarding — to another: companionship. And counterintuitively, says [bioethicist Jessica] Pierce, being a constant companion is a tougher job.
“Dogs are still working dogs; they’re just doing a different kind of work,” she said. “I think it’s actually much more dangerous and difficult work than any other kind of work we’ve ever asked them to do.”
We demand companionship with as little friction as possible, expecting our pets (especially dogs) to be docile and agreeable, and to adapt quickly to the human world, with its countless rules and norms that mean nothing to them. And then when they inevitably fail to do so at first, we deem their natural habits misbehavior in need of correction, or abandonment. […]
To serve the guard-to-companion evolution, a $136 billion pet industry has sprung up in recent decades to breed, transport, and sell tens of millions of animals a year — often in terrible conditions — and provide all the accoutrements of the modern pet, from food to toys to veterinary care to perfume for dogs. […]
A number of animal welfare scholars, like Pierce, are challenging the rosy picture that the pet industry — and pet owners, myself included — have painted around the domestic human-animal bond, and sometimes pose a radical question: should we end pet ownership? I’m increasingly inclined to think the answer could be yes — or that at the very least, there should be far fewer pets, and those owners should be prepared to put in the time and effort to provide them with far better lives.”
#3 ☀️ The Solarpunk Movement
While I am not 100% sold on the Solarpunk movement (yet), I do think that it has potential for mainstream appeal and has had a bit of an attention uptake recently. And as I have said here many times, we do urgently need more optimistic and fun visions of the future that work for the masses – and not just for the sustainability bubble.
“Where are the visions full of community picnics in exotic green fields, affordable houses grown from fungi, ultramarathons for centenarians, self-healing clothing, or beneficial relationships with powerful drugs, immersive games, exquisite food, and wild nature? These worlds could actually be our future, but only if we can stay motivated, creative, and long-viewed as a society. […]
About 15 years ago, indie designers like Matt Staggs, John Robert, Olivia Louise, and Adam Flynn were crafting the Solarpunk aesthetic and sparking a cascade of think-pieces. But now, Solarpunk doesn’t just exist on the fringes of the blogosphere: there’s a crowdfunded solarpunk video game, a university program, a Reddit community, a media company, a web magazine, at least 18 “solarpunk” Spotify playlists, a forthcoming brewery, ~100 Tik Tok accounts, a wikipedia page, and venture capital firms. In an August 2023 livestream, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez even shouted out the Solarpunk movement. […]
As a grassroots movement, there’s no formal tribunal of solarpunks, but it usually describes futures that are pleasant, sustainable, and ambitious; optimistic and inclusive without being necessarily utopian. Common themes are community-orientation, harmony with nature, craftsmanship, regenerative farming, anti-bigotry, anti-exploitation, environmental justice, feminism, true cost accounting, and industrial ecology.
Solarpunk helps resolve the false choice between working towards a more rustic society and a more technological one. […] Technology has given us many wonders already, but it has also given us the Facebook algorithm, millions of Shake Weights sitting in garbage dumps, and a climate crisis. We must remain vigilant against corporate greenwashing and not lose sight of immediate problems, but we must also cultivate optimism in the collective imagination; we must dream dreams that steer the unstoppable social organism towards good.”
“Every single stupid, loathsome, and ugly story in tech is a result of the fundamentally broken relationship between venture capital and technology.”
Software Is Beating The World by
“The ‘precolonial Africa’ epithet implies that we don’t take the history of Africa seriously.”
The Idea Of ‘Precolonial Africa’ Is Vacuous And Wrong by Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò
“I can summarize the book in two sentences: We have overprotected children in the real world and underprotected them in the virtual world.”
The Anxious Generation by
🚿 Shower Thoughts
That’s it for this week!
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